Jen Hogan is mum to seven children.
1. Every day is laundry day, several times a day at that, and what the bottom of your washing basket actually looks like is a distant memory. Furthermore, there is a real and very likely possibility that whatever clothes are actually stuck at bottom of this basket have been outgrown by the child they belong to and in all probability the one that comes after him/her too.
And it’s not just dirty clothes that you’re drowning in. As the washing machine works overtime, the mountain of clean, fresh smelling clothes builds up on your chair or pile or wherever you store them, until you get a chance to put them away. Building, building, building, waiting for your toddler to sneak past you in his mucky wellies and recreate that scene from Peppa Pig “jumping up and down in muddy puddles (of clean clothes)” minus the part where Mammy Pig rolls on the ground laughing.
2. You count how many children you have with you when you leave the house and as you enter and leave all shops, parks and elevators. You, in all likelihood, quickly check you have predominantly the right gender and do a quick scan on hair colour
3. You feel completely justified in not remembering all of their names and believe your children should know who you mean when you call “you” “whatchamacallit” or “whateveryournameis.”
4. People count as you go by and frequently ask “are they all yours? What do you drive? Have you not got a television? Are you done?”
5. You have to seriously motivate yourself to load them all into the car because that task and locating the necessary, shoes, coats and underpants takes longer than the reason you’re actually leaving the house.
6. You have to label the toothbrushes because toothbrushes only come in so many different colours and duplication is necessary. This is especially important if you need to identify which toothbrush the three-year-old used to fish the breakfast waffle out of the toilet.
7. You watch reruns of the Waltons and find yourself looking for tips on how to make mealtimes run more smoothly.
8. You find that’s not the only thing that you’ve taken from the Waltons and as you kiss them all goodnight you add in “Goodnight Mary Ellen. Goodnight John Boy” just for good measure.
9. No-one is quite sure how many children you actually do have – just that you’ve “a load.”
10. In spite of the noise, mess, relentless workload and constant battle with certain family members to wear underpants, when you see them all together in a rare tranquil moment - you just can’t believe your good luck.